By Naseerah Nanabhai
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created long term stress on many individuals. Factors that have contributed to stress and anxiety include, worrying about loved ones, financial loss, being overwhelmed with working remotely and juggling every aspect of life at a heightened pace. These worries have caused difficulties in sleeping, over or under eating, teeth grinding and even hair loss.
A national survey has found that South Africans’ stress levels have shot up by 56%, since the start of the pandemic. This increase in stress levels puts people at risk of serious health problems, such as heart attacks, weight gain, anxiety, depression and addiction.
As South Africa observes Mental Health Awareness Month in October, citizens are urged to seek professional help if their mental health has been affected. The WHO said this week that demand worldwide is increasing for mental health services because of Covid-related “bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear”.
Other ways to ensure a healthy mind include, acknowledging your feelings of stress and anxiety; staying connected and talking to friends and family; creating a new routine while ensuring it includes exercise, hobbies and sleep and reaching out to a mental health professional when needed.
A major aspect of anxiety is the fear of future threat. Meaning that when anxiety gets bad, it can lead many to catastrophic thoughts of the future, which can cause significant damage to your current mental health and overall well-being. A way of overcoming this is to practice mindfulness where you focus your thoughts on the here and now, in order to detach from anxieties about the future by existing in the present.
It is important to remember, there are always positive things to focus on even in times of great duress and a positive outlook and confidence are vital to helping get through stress caused by the pandemic.